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Peter Pinney p2

In one scene in Dust on my shoes (1952) by Peter Pinney, the author is in the Iraq embassy in Syria, trying to obtain a transit visa to Kuwait.

The consul is anti-semitic, suspicious, and the only thing stopping the author from reaching the Persian Gulf. He quotes the consul: “H’m. If you fly, you will not need a visa. Are you not flying?”

I bent my head to smell the pink carnation in the lapel of my American Palm Beach suit while answers scuttled through my mind.

“Non, Monsieur le Consul. The expense of an air passage would not be tolerated by my company.”

The consul spread his hands. “But, my dear sir, to fly from Beirut to Cueit is no more expensive than to travel three days by train, or on the Damascus-Baghdad bus. No?”

“But there is a clause in my contract –and it is said that oil has been discovered by the Cueit airfield, and that the erection of tall derricks has rendered it temporarily unserviceable. Besides, I get airsick, and one does not often have the opportunity to travel through the fabled and beautiful land of Iraq. Many people travel to London; but how many people ever see Baghdad, city of caliphs and golden minarets? My mother,” I added, “was born in Baghdad.” …

“Have you any proof of this mission of yours? Any letters?”

“But of course. I am sorry. I should have…voila! This is from my firm in London.”

The consul perused the document, and was obviously impressed. He read it twice, and chided me smilingly as he returned it.

“You should have shown me this before. You see, we have to be so careful; one hears so many stories from persons who are in reality just adventurers and undesirable characters. There are many strange people who come to these parts, and want to go here and there.”

“Of course, I understand. One cannot be too careful.”…

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